Some users have been reporting over the course of the past week that they have been locked out of social sharing sites Instagram and Facebook, both owned by Facebook, and that the only way to regain control of those accounts would be to upload a picture of a photo ID. However, it’s unclear what photo IDs are being accepted, and those who submit a rejected photo ID are then required to submit a birth certificate to verify their identity.
At first, these users were concerned that the verification may be a scam by a hacker at an attempt to steal identity known as identity theft. However, it appears that these verification requests are legitimate and are originating from Facebook.
According to the social network, these ID verification checks are done to ensure that users are not violating the terms of service agreement.
“This is just a general practice for both Facebook and Instagram to request photo IDs for verification purposes depending on what type of violation may have occurred,” a Facebook spokesperson told TPM. “Unfortunately, I can’t share more with you beyond that as we don’t go into details beyond that.”
It could be understandable why Facebook may be requiring such verification as it requires people to use their real names and the terms do not allow individuals to create more than one Facebook account. On the other hand, Instagram allows users to use avatars and pseudonyms so it’s unclear why Instagram may require verification.
A possibility for requiring users to submit ID to verify their real identity may be in an effort to expand Facebook’s advertising efforts. As Facebook will be battling Google and others in this area, it wants to ensure that its targeted ads are going to real people, and perhaps the company can better direct its targeted ads if it knows its users better. Whatever the real reason is, users will be looking to Facebook for some answers.